Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

No Applause, Please!

Last week, I sent my first query letter and the first five pages of my YA novel to an agent.  Two days later, I got my first rejection letter.

It was bound to happen.  Odds are always against the first time novelist when approaching agents and publishers.  And I expect to get many rejections in the coming years. So it really did not come as a surprise.

I am sure it was a form letter, though it was nicely worded.  More of a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of rejection, which anyone who survived high school knows is the kindest way to break someone’s heart.  It even had the requisite “you and I may not work, but you and someone else will be a perfect match” worked into the second paragraph.  A balm for any wounded ego.

I read through it a couple of times, and then read it to my husband.  And I thought about it for quite a while trying to decide how I actually felt about it.  I have come to realize that I am not hurt, and I am not deterred from attempting to submit again.  I am actually a bit relieved.  I have my first submission and rejection behind me and that is a big step.

I also confirmed something in my mind that I had always felt, but was never quite sure of.  I will keep writing despite rejection.  I didn’t detect any little voice that whispered, “see, you aren’t good enough” or “told you it wasn’t any good.”  I didn’t feel the slightest tickle that made me want to pack up the computer and never take up the keys again.

My dream of writing, my urge to put words to the page has withstood a rejection – a flat-out thanks but no thanks, don’t call us, we won’t call you rejection.  And it is still intact.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a close friend about following a dream, for me, writing, in her case, school. We came to the conclusion that fame and fortune are not what drives us.  Instead, it is the doing and the journey that feeds us.  I will more than likely always need my day job, but it is the writing itself that is truly healing and satisfying to my soul.

What is the dream that pulls at your heart?  What do you want to do without any thought to the applause that may or may not follow?  What feeds your soul?

12 Comments

  1. Deb Scarfo

    Congrats on completing your book! Keep sending queries out there! You’ll strike gold one day!

    • Thanks Deb! It took me a long time to reach the point where I was mentally ready to submit anything. Now I have to find the resilience to keep doing it! 🙂

      • Anonymous

        I hope/plan on being in your position one day soon! Half way through my first novel! It’s funny, I wish I was where you are; finished with my book so I could start the submission process. But yet, once there, I feel I will miss my characters and the writing process where I am at now! lol Guess that shows I’m not “there” yet! Best of luck to you!

        • I had a hard time letting my characters go at the end of the book. Then after the fifth rewrite I couldn’t wait to be done with them. 🙂 You will be ready to send them out in the world when you are ready to send them out to the world. And only you will be able to determine when it is time. Then if you find you miss the characters terribly, you can always write a sequel.

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks Cheryl, I’ve thought of a sequel, too. But like you said, after a half dozen rewrites, I’m sure I’ll be ready to move on! Do you mind me asking how long it took you to write your book? I work during the day as well, and raise 3 teenage boys so my biggest obstacle isn’t writer’s block, it’s finding the time to write! 😦

    • Even when I make time to write, I don’t feel I get much done. I have participated in NaNoWriMo the last four Novembers. I have managed to get down 50,000 words in that month and that makes up the bulk of the book. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend joining the craziness in November (or June or August as they have a Camp NaNo now). The deadline and crazy goal is enough to kick me in the butt. Usually I cross the finish line and don’t look at the novel again for a few months due to complete burn out. 🙂 But it gets enough of a plot down on paper to push me toward my final goal.

      • Anonymous

        I haven’t participated in NanoWriMo yet, but have a fellow writer in my writers group that has. It’s def something to think about for me! I tend to “rewrite” as I write so I think that’s slows me down. But I do typically complete a chapter or so a week, but am anxious to pick up my pace. But maybe I’ll try a different tactic like you suggested. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Stumbled on your page and I’m offering congrats on getting the query letter out! I’m also a new blogger, finally committing to the writing life. Would be delighted if you’d take a look at my blog: elizduggan.com Thanks and much success to you!

  4. Hi Cheryl,
    It’s like I said…I’m practically jealous of your rejection, it means you’ve put something out there! I can’t wait to get rejected (well, you know what I mean). Nice blog. I’m now following!

    • Hi Katie- Finally figured out how to follow you too! 🙂

  5. Jocelyn

    Cheryl,
    You’re leading the expedition for many of us who are in pursuit of the true meaning of our lives and who are taking steps toward our true life’s fulfillment. I’m a firm (and experienced) believer that rejection is the motivation that fuels our journey. Keep letting your inspiration and creativity lead you as being a writer is genuinely your Truth. 🙂

    • Jocie – You are pushing me along as much as I am pushing you! Here’s to finding your own genuine Truth as well. 🙂

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